Fun for one or two reads, but, unlike Cub, it probably won't have much staying power.

THE JUNGLE RUN

Free-spirited artwork with colors of psychedelic intensity smooths the rather fitful nature of this race through the jungle.

The animals are getting ready for the jungle run. There’s a hippopotamus, a rhinoceros, an elephant and other major players in the bestiary, so when “Cub turns up to take her place, / …the others say, ‘You’re too small to race.’ ” But the rhyming text is too light-hearted to throw much of a wet blanket on the proceedings, and the cub proves to be an adept at the various obstacles on the course, quickly pulling into the lead as the python and gazelle get tangled in the vine net. At the rope swing, Cub makes like a pendulum while Elephant misses altogether and falls in the creek. The others use his sizeable noggin as a stepping stone, which seems a little unsporting. At the waterslide, Cub is suddenly found riding Elephant’s back. Wasn’t Cub well in the lead, calling an inauspicious “You can’t catch me!” over her shoulder, as if tempting the Gingerbread Man’s fate? Cub does win the race through no fault of her own, and the whole event becomes a distant afterthought to Parker-Rees’ illustrations, with their cool jungle landscapes and radioactive colors. A joyful camaraderie closes the book, a welcome counterpoint to its earlier exclusivity, if another touch of randomness.

Fun for one or two reads, but, unlike Cub, it probably won't have much staying power. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-39256-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.

I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE

A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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